Those who enjoyed 2005’s Sin City are in for more of the same with Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, only not quite as memorable.
The principle reason this belated sequel is a lesser beast is that the art-directed-to-within-an-inch-of-it’s-life schtick that seemed so fresh visually nine years ago has since become more commonplace. Moreover, this instalment lacks the emotional core of the previous film, namely the Bruce Willis/Jessica Alba relationship.
Both the Willis and Alba characters return to continue that relationship, albeit with one watching over the other from beyond the grave. However this time round their characters are more peripheral, less convincing and therefore less satisfying. Instead the bulk of the film focuses on femme fatale Ava (Eva Green, who is naked in at least half her scenes) and the various men she tries to lure to their doom, including private detective Dwight (Josh Brolin). Surrounding this main story is another one concerning corrupt senator Roark (Powers Boothe) and one of his illegitimate sons Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Other characters known to fans of Frank Miller’s original comics – including Marv (Mickey Rourke) – also make an appearance, weaving in and out of the various plotlines.
Robert Rodriguez directs just as slickly as he did with the first Sin City, and visually the monochrome with splashes of colour is every bit as eye popping (as it is in the comics). Performances are completely over the top for the most part, but appropriate to the subject matter. Incidentally, the rest of the cast also includes the likes of Juno Temple, Christopher Lloyd, Rosario Dawson, Dennis Haysbert, Ray Liotta and even Lady Gaga at one point.
Needless to say, morally and spiritually this is all but indefensible given it’s apparent celebration of bloody vengeance in pretty much all the plotlines. However, taking it too seriously would be a mistake. Like the comics, this film is deliberately exaggerated, often tongue in cheek and has a faintly satirical edge amid all the noir gloom.
The bottom line is that if you enjoyed the first film, you’ll probably like this one too, just not as much. If however you were bothered by the extreme violence of the first – not to mention the dubious female characterisation – you’d be best to give this a wide berth.